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Joined: September 2, 2009  (email not validated)
Comments posted: 25
Votes received: 40

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Recent Comments

Since you're looking for an idiom like "wild goose chase," I'd like to advance this suggestion: "wild goose chase."
Also, the Wikipedia version of the origin of red herring is that it's simply bright red and strong smelling which distracts from other dishes, not necessarily intentionally. However, even Wikipedia defines it as being intentional.

bjhagerman February 11, 2010, 2:37pm

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That's odd, considering that "I did not want to loose my dog" is exactly as correct as "I did not want to lose my dog; the only question is which meaning you wanted. Would MS Word highlight "lose" if it was used, too?

bjhagerman November 29, 2009, 6:51pm

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I am a little surprised that it has never occurred to me to question the phrase "all of a sudden" before. What if it was only part of a sudden? I think I'd like an event to happen at half of a sudden.
In my opinion, if you insist on using the phrase, then "all of the sudden" and "all of a sudden" are equally correct. However, "all the sudden" or "all a sudden" just sound wrong. For those who are insistent about the correct usage, according to the rant I found while checking it out, "all of a sudden" is the correct term, and it's not supposed to make sense if you analyze it.

As for "reveal," there are some small circumstances where it is used as a noun, as porsche pointed out, but it's pretty much never, in normal usage, a substitute for revelation. Sarah Palin is not going to have a reveal for us, she's going to have a revelation for us.

I know it's a bit late to respond but...
too funny wrote: "Well, are you being ironic there with your misuse of the apostrophe in 'his I’s'. It's plural, not possessive."
I really, really hate it when people who are wrong "correct" people who are not. For example, when pluralizing a letter, using an apostrophe is the correct format. Just to rub salt in the wound, you also should put periods within quotation marks, never outside of them. Finally, I know this particular rule is obscure, but when you ask a question, you place a question mark at the end of the sentence.

bjhagerman November 21, 2009, 1:03pm

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Well, to be fair, I'd never heard of "malapropism" before. I should also allow that Wikipedia, which was my source, isn't necessarily accurate. I also usually look for alternative sources to see if they match up with Wikipedia. I somehow missed doing that this time.
So, according to Wikipedia, the words must sound similar with no concern over whether it's intended. Ian's example does sound similar, but that doesn't mean that all of he and his friend's replacements do. He didn't state that they all do.
Having corrected my previous failure to examine other sources, it seems that it's common that they sound similar, not required. It also does not seem to be required that it be intentional, especially considering the source of the word: "Mrs. Malaprop."

In short, my bad.

However, in light of a more in-depth search, I have to disagree on the arbitrary replacement. I would consider the above example of "I'm having a 'lamppost,'" rather than a "coronary," to be a malapropism as well.

bjhagerman November 17, 2009, 7:58am

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The only problem with using "malapropism" is that they must sound similar. If all of Ian and his friend's words sound similar to the original, then the puzzle is solved. If, however, the word replacement is arbitrary, then that won't do at all.

bjhagerman November 16, 2009, 3:04pm

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Ian, I don't think there's a word for that, but I would call it a "misnym."

bjhagerman November 10, 2009, 12:31pm

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Personally, I think he should be hung.

bjhagerman October 29, 2009, 9:02pm

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Bah, correction/clarification:
I agree with whomever else said it; “troop” means a group of soldiers, and “troops” means groups of soldiers, for now.

bjhagerman October 29, 2009, 12:46pm

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Well, JC, you've apparently been well and truly brainwashed. Even bought into the rivalry with the Navy tactic they use to increase solidarity.
Anyway, I agree with whoever else has said that, for now, "troop" means a group of soldiers, and "troops" means groups of soldiers. However, if common usage dictates that a "troop" means a single soldier, then the purists will just have to whine about the degradation of the language as it gets added into the dictionaries.

bjhagerman October 28, 2009, 9:35pm

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No more relevant than "chat" which isn't relevant because it is not preceded by a consonant sound, like, say, "x."

bjhagerman October 16, 2009, 10:24pm

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Inquiry, correction, and admonishment to jai:
1. How do you figure "Grammar Girl" has any more right to make claims than say... me?
2. According to a poster who cited the OED on the previous page, the word "texted" has been around since the 15th century.
3. "Unscrupulous" means lacking the ability or desire to distinguish between right and wrong. I'm fairly sure that there is no evidence of anyone here lacking either. Don't use words you don't understand.

bjhagerman October 11, 2009, 11:01am

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"That was so fun."
Do you mean to suggest that there is something wrong with this phrase, Mark?

bjhagerman October 6, 2009, 2:00pm

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I don't understand the debate. Is the question whether we should pronounce "texted" as two syllables? Has anyone tried pronouncing it as a single syllable? You can't pronounce a "d" sound directly after a "t" sound. I suppose you could pronounced it as "texd" making the second "t" silent, but that's just silly.

bjhagerman September 25, 2009, 5:12pm

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That's an amusing question. Does the side that he takes automatically become less valid?
In all seriousness, why even acknowledge his existence? He's already deemed himself irrelevant by interjecting pointless drivel into a serious discussion. Who are we to grant him any more credence than he gives himself?

bjhagerman September 25, 2009, 1:26am

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Douglas, I object to your supposition that simply because people are dead, famous, and considered intelligent, they are somehow wiser than people whose wisdom you have little basis to gauge.

bjhagerman September 24, 2009, 8:31am

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Herein lies the evolution of "stamina" from it's Latin origin "st?men":
It's not entirely clear from the above, but I believe that this usage mutated separately from the "stamen" of a plant.
Actually, I wonder if "stamen" mutated at all. I can imagine the person studying flowers looking at the small strand within a flower and thinking, "that looks like a thread, I think I'll name it using the Latin word for 'thread.'"

Again, following a simplistic system would be the ideal. According to the rules of English (ha, like English has rules, better to call them "guidelines"), the plural of "stamen" should be "stamens" and not "stamina." Otherwise, when we speak of the "stamina of flowers," how do others know if we speak of their ability to thrive, or the protrusions within them? (See, the points are so boring without the spice of sarcasm.)

"I know that we won’t go back to speaking the original forms of the English language, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot feel the need to maintain the language that many hold to be correct."
This is what I find ridiculous, and therefore, deserving of ridicule:
Imagine that the entire history and the entire future of language is a long, constantly morphing line. You've decided that this line should stop at a particular point, simply because you exist there. That's rather arbitrary, and supremely arrogant, isn't it?

Douglas, I object to your supposition that simply because people are dead, famous, and considered intelligent, they are somehow wiser than living people to whom you have little cause to know the wisdom of.

hot4teacher, I need to inform you that you've given me all of the ammunition I need to quite effectively ream you, and a strong desire to do so, but I'd like to keep such invective off of a forum dedicated to intellectual topics.

bjhagerman September 24, 2009, 7:41am

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"I’ve (and you have) provided several examples of how modifying English can be useless, or even changing it for the worse. I don’t see how the use of ‘forums’ instead of ‘fora’ could possibly benefit the English language, other than making it easier for people who are ill-educated or ignorant enough not to know the correct plural of words like ‘forum’."
Because, if we're going to push for unobtainable ideals, the simplest system is best? Because people should not be marked as lacking in education simply because they don't find the subject of English endlessly fascinating, and thus do not know every single rule in our hopelessly entangled language? Or, because the correct plural form in English IS "forums"? It's also "fora," but that's irrelevant to my point.
What prompted the sarcasm to which you so strenuously object is simple; you proposed to protect a language from the very process by which it became the language that you wish to protect. It's hard to point out the obvious without being sarcastic about it. It's even harder when you claim to want to preserve English in it's current state when the current state includes "forums" as a proper plural.

"I had a problem with the fact that you set out to simply take the piss at me with your sarcasm and smart-arsed attitude."
What, so my point is irrelevant just because I used sarcasm to make it? Also, I use sarcasm quite regularly in person, and frequently to make points, so I doubt that I would hesitate just because you happen to be easily offended.

bjhagerman September 23, 2009, 6:45am

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Oh, it's fine is it? Well, I'm glad it's fine that you told me to "get the fuck out" over a misunderstanding that you could have prevented by noting the time stamps of the posts.
In that case, I think it's just fine if whatever I say happens to be insulting to you. That's part of free speech too, after all.
I'm also glad that your atheism is somehow relevant to your belief in free speech and/or your lack of regret in voicing your opinion.

Back on topic... exactly how is it changed for the worse? Seems to me that using "forums" as the plural of "forum," and doing the same for similar words, is the best way to avoid mutilation of English, since that is the most common method of pluralizing in English.

bjhagerman September 23, 2009, 5:20am

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My second post was in addition to the first. I did not refresh the site in between making the two, so I had no idea you had posted, thus your post between them had no bearing on the second post.
I tried to forestall that on my last post by refreshing before I posted; but, somehow the comment to which I'm currently responding was not visible before I posted my last comment despite the time stamps showing yours having been up for eight minutes before mine.

bjhagerman September 23, 2009, 4:03am

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"I cannot control the environment in which I was brought up; this doesn’t stop me from believing that the way that languages alter (incorrectly imo) is wrong. If I could, I would ensure that everyone speaks the language correctly and at least attempt to prevent further deterioration of modern linguistics (part of the reason why I am on this discussion board)."
So, let me get this straight, you think that by complaining about the way language mutates, and has always mutated, you are going to fix it?
If your point is that it's an ineffective method, then I agree. If your point is that, because it's an ineffective method, we should stop doing it, then I have to ask by what means you intend to enforce this change.

bjhagerman September 23, 2009, 3:49am

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